UN says stop matching lone female Ukraine refugees with single men
UN warns the UK government to stop matching lone female Ukraine refugees with single men over fears they could be exploited
- Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme allows individuals, charities, businesses to bring people escaping the war to safety – even if they have no ties to the UK
- Anyone with a room or home available for at least six months can offer it up
- UNHCR called on UK government that a ‘more appropriate’ process is created
- Do YOU know a single man that has offered a refugee a home? Let me know: [email protected]
Ukrainian women and children should not be matched with single men amid concerns that they will be exploited, the UN refugee agency has warned.
The UNHCR has called on the UK government after seeing ‘increasing reports’ of female refugees feeling at risk from people who have sponsored them to come to the UK under the Homes for Ukraine matching scheme.
They warned that a ‘more appropriate’ process is required to protect vulnerable refugees from exploitation, adding that there needs to be adequate safeguards and vetting put in place.
Do YOU know a single man that has offered a refugee a home?
Let me know about your experience: [email protected]
The Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme allows individuals, charities, community groups and businesses to bring people escaping the war to safety – even if they have no ties to the UK.
Anyone with a room or home available for at least six months can offer it to a Ukrainian individual or a family, though those offering to host will be vetted and Ukrainian applicants will undergo security checks.
Last week councils sounded the alarm over a ‘concerning increase’ in Ukrainian refugees arriving in the UK and becoming homeless due to relationship breakdowns with their sponsors and problems accessing accommodation.
Dozens of matches under the Homes for Ukraine scheme are understood to have broken down, with local authorities having to put families in emergency accommodation while they wait to find a new sponsor.
Councils have been calling for a way to get refugees whose matches have not worked out back on the database so they can be matched quickly with sponsors in the local area who have homes ready and waiting.
A spokesman for the agency said: ‘UNHCR believes that a more appropriate matching process could be put in place by ensuring that women and women with children are matched with families or couples, rather than with single men.
Ukrainian women and children should not be matched with single men amid concerns that they will be exploited, the UNHCR has said, warning the government of many female refugees at risk (refugees pictured fleeing the war from Ukraine to neighbouring Poland, in Medyka)
‘Matching done without the appropriate oversight may lead to increasing the risks women may face, in addition to the trauma of displacement, family separation and violence already experienced.’
Last week, a number of female refugees faced ‘sexual advances’ by their British hosts, councils have claimed.
In a Facebook group that helps match refugees up with sponsors, one woman shared a plea to help her find another home for a female refugee.
She wrote: ‘I have had a young lady message me about a host that she was going to but is now scared as he has been asking her personal questions so she wants to cancel her application but can’t find the link to do it.
‘She said she is scared as she now wants to find another sponsor.
‘She is young and this guy said he was a single man with a daughter but was asking her if she had a boyfriend and if she was ready for a relationship. This is worrying.’
Families who have arrived under the new visa scheme say they are still struggling to access cash while they wait for benefits and are having to be put up in hotels.
Dozens of matches under the separate Homes for Ukraine scheme are also understood to have broken down, with local authorities having to put families in emergency accommodation while they wait to find a new sponsor.
The British Red Cross said it has had to refer people to homelessness charities, local authorities and housing associations due to problems getting funds or accommodation. In some cases it has had to fund short-term accommodation itself as an emergency measure.
In one example, a mother and her five children were put up in a hotel by a council after arriving under the family visa scheme.
They are struggling to set up a bank account without proof of address, and without a bank account they cannot complete an application for universal credit.
They were advised to go to their local Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) office in person, but this is at least three miles away and would take nearly an hour to reach by foot as they do not have money for public transport.
Alex Fraser, British Red Cross director of refugee support and restoring family links, said: ‘We’re increasingly concerned about the access to information about support people are receiving when they arrive.
‘We’re seeing an increasing number of calls to our support line from Ukrainians struggling to get cash and housing, and British families desperate to help but being prevented by the system.’
Last month, the Government announced the launch of the Homes for Ukraine scheme which will pay families £350-a-month to take in those fleeing Russian brutality.
Within hours of the scheme launching, the website for registering interest had crashed and subsequently more than 200,000 people signed up to the programme.
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